The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our campus that include severe financial pressures that our community must address in fiscal 2020, ending June 30, 2020, and beyond. We recognize that the university will face difficult decisions that will be painful to the campus community. In the face of these challenges, we are committed to supporting each other to meet the needs of the UMass Amherst community in the least disruptive manner possible.
In response to this emergency, three major bargaining units – PSU, USA/MTA and AFSCME – have joined with the administration and reached agreements on both a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) as well as a five-day unpaid furlough. The administration deeply appreciates the collaborative and constructive approach of the unions involved. Both the VSIP and the furlough will also apply to benefited non-unit personnel who do not hold an underlying faculty appointment.
Provisions in the agreements include:
- Five furlough days without pay to be taken between May 31 and June 20.
- Because the furlough days are related to COVID-19, this will be a temporary period of unemployment and all employees are considered in standby status and expected to return to work after the temporary absence of five days.
- The university will not contest any claims of unemployment related to this time period and furlough action.
- The VSIP will provide cash incentives to those who voluntarily resign or retire from UMass Amherst. Interested staff and faculty may apply between now and June 12, 2020.
The Human Resources website has additional information about the furlough and VSIP. These actions are part of a series of measures taken in recent weeks to address the budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They include a hiring freeze for non-academic staff, a reduction in non-essential spending for the rest of this fiscal year and voluntary pay cuts through FY 21 for senior administration officials. Further clouding the fiscal picture is the great uncertainty for next fiscal year, starting July 1st. We will need to navigate many variables, such as the pandemic’s impact on the state budget, the short- and long-term effect on future enrollment, stock market volatility and its impact on our endowment and gift income, and uncertainty about when the pandemic will subside. We do not yet know what personnel actions may be necessary in the coming year.
The actions taken to date, and others that may follow, are hard and painful. We are hopeful that they will provide our community a path forward to recovery. We thank everyone for their understanding, resilience and perseverance in these unparalleled times.
Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer